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Changes expected.

With the arrival of new parliamentarians and municipality officials, we expect some changes when it comes to how the country is run, or at least modify some laws for the betterment of society.

The new faces are expected to face scores of complaints, ranging from access to better public services to construction of parks and imposing stiff penalties on traffic violators.

When both the husband and wife are working, and when old parents need support, it is customary to visit one of the recruitment offices to look for a domestic worker to take care of children and do some house chores.

Our maid was happily working with us and we were treating her like one of the family member and we were so close to her. We even asked her to teach us some of the common words in her language so we can bridge misunderstandings.

Soon after she arrived, my uncle brought her a mobile phone as a gift. After five months she ran away from our home for no reason. Our sick mother told us there was no bickering of sorts between her and the maid. She simply ran away in the wee hours of the day. The incident took us all by surprise.

She didn't know anyone in the country and she is stranger in our neighbourhood. She often goes with us to visit some relatives, so why and where on earth did she run away and most importantly how?

We informed the local police station and my sister resigned from the private company where she was working - a job she got after being unemployed for several years - to take care of our sick mother and do the house chores.

We couldn't get any information about the maid for years. One day I approached a broker to find us a temporary worker as my mother passed away and my sister was employed again.

The broker agreed but said the salary is BD180! Very expensive, I protested. But as there was no alternative, I wanted to give it a try at least for a month.

I met the broker in a cafe in Manama and he called the maid. She instantly recognised me and tried to run away. I told her to calm down and sit there. The maid was the worker who ran away from our house years ago! The broker was confused and I told him to leave us alone. She was in trepidation and sobbing.

I asked her how she managed to run away from our home and why?

Her relative who used to work in a hotel told her to run away and sent a cab right to our doorstep. The "taxi driver" who picked her up was paid a whopping BD75! Unbelievable!

It seems there is an underground organisation of thugs who help innocent maids to run away and exploit them.

Those who employed her illegally were mostly well-to-do expats, she told me, with a minimum salary of BD180 per month - three times the salary she was getting while working with us. They have used my work permit and all the money I paid to recruit her from the office to get the service they don't deserve. I am now suing some of them in the labour court.

Last week's move by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority - framing new rules on allowing expats to legally employ domestic workers - seems promising as it will help clamp down on illegal visa market (GDN, December 28). What I expect from our new MPs is to monitor the implementation of the new rules and devise other ways of controlling illegal visa rackets and most importantly impose heavy fines on those who employ runaway workers.

That is one of my New Year expectations.


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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jan 8, 2015
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